Affinity Villas Blog

How to Avoid Being Scammed on Your Next Villa Rental

When booking any holiday online, there are many things you can do in order to remain safe and secure, and avoid being scammed. Unfortunately, online fraud is on the increase and every year people many of us are innocently duped and regret some of the online buying decisions made. It’s not just individuals that suffer, major organisations in 2017 including the NHS were also victims of cyber-attacks. Affinity Villas is one of the most trusted and established villa rental companies in the sector with a secure website and online booking however if you are looking to book villa accommodation and want to shop around first, read our guide to help you avoid being a victim of cyber-crime.

Guard Your Personal Identity

A common misconception is that scammers are just out to make as much money from you as possible. While money is absolutely the number one thing they are after, it is not the only thing. Often, they are just as interested in stealing your identity. You should be very wary of anyone asking you to provide scans of your official documents. Genuine companies such as ourselves will never ask for a scanned copy of your passport, and anyone who does is probably seeking to steal your identity. We will ask you for passport details that will be given to the villa owner to fulfil the reporting requirements of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) but this information must be uploaded by you via the guest area on our secure website.

How Long has the Property been Advertised for?

The longer a property has been listed or advertised, the more likely it is to be genuine. Those who are seeking to scam holiday goers will often advertise the villa for just a couple of weeks or less. Of course, if you find a recent addition with a company you trust, then there should be no problem, however, you should be wary of any listing or website which is both very recent and that has little evidenced history to back it up, especially, on villa rental sites that are not established. Affinity Villas has been providing villa accommodation since 2001 and we only offer villas that are available to us exclusively and cannot be booked anywhere else.

Is There a Valid Phone Number?

In many cases a genuine villa owner renting their villa will display a national or mobile number. Although there is no guarantee this is not fake, it is sensible to ring the number and get a sense of who the owner is and find out more information to corroborate the online listing. If there is no telephone number advertised or there is an 08 or an unusual number, proceed with caution. There could be entirely legitimate reasons in this circumstance, however, typically, scammers will either use telephone numbers which can be taken down easily or not display any number at all.

The More Details, The Better

It is worth remembering that a genuine villa rental company will have many details to hand about the property in question. Therefore, one powerful way to work out whether a listing is genuine is to ask the provider lots of questions about the details of the villa. The more knowledgeable they appear to be, the more likely it is that you can trust them. It helps in particular if you ask them details which you could only know if you know a property intimately. You might even consider asking them about the local area too. All the staff at Affinity Villas have visited most, if not all, of the villas featured and will be able to answer any specific questions you have.

Online Content Check Top Tip

If you are unsure whether a listing is genuine or not simply copy two or three sentences either from the first or second paragraph or both from the listing and paste into a Google Search. If you see results appear following the search, click on them one by one opening up a new tab in your browser and you will be able to quickly compare if the listing has been copied from another website listing. Scammers typically copy 100% of the content from another listing. Please note, this is not an exact science in that some genuine listings often copy each other’s content, however, this will help you make an informed judgement alongside assessing other factors, such as realistic pricing. Affinity Villas have written all of the content, including every single villa description, themselves and all of the villa photographs are taken by a professional photographer for our exclusive use.

Don’t Let Yourself Be Hurried

When you book with a reputable provider such as ourselves, you will never have to worry about being rushed to complete payment. But a scammer is really only interested in your money, so it is likely that they will be trying to rush you to pay. If you start to feel a little harassed, it is often a sure sign that you are in the hands of a scammer. At that point, it’s time to turn away as soon as you can - and come to the genuine villa rental experts.

Payment Method

Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, therefore, one of the safest ways to pay for a villa rental is credit card, although, always check with your credit card provider to see if you are covered in the event of a scam. Fraudsters generally demand direct bank transfers as a preferred payment method.

How do Fraudsters Advertise?

One such method currently being deployed involves setting up a fake website which is deliberately designed to look genuine and trustworthy which is then advertised using online advertising platforms such as Google Adwords. Although the fraudster is paying to appear at the top of Google, it is of course a numbers game meaning even a few hundred pounds spent on this type of promotion could yield thousands in income. Usually, only one victim is required for the website to disappear without trace.

What Should I do if I Have Been Scammed?

Report immediately to the Police and the Trading Standards Team who deal with these types of scams, please view the link below;

By paying attention to these simple tips, and ensuring that you book with a reputable company such as ourselves, you can be sure to avoid being scammed on your next villa rental booking.

Our Guide to Praia Da Luz in the Algarve

It’s no secret that one of the most pleasant and relaxing places to visit for a holiday in Portugal is Praia Da Luz. Often known as just Luz, it’s a resort located in the Western Algarve and is a highly developed yet unspoiled area. If you’re thinking of going on holiday to a place that has a lot of character, charm, and history, this destination should be on top of your wish list!

So, what’s it like and is there much to see and do there? In short, there are plenty of activities and points of interest to keep you occupied and having fun. Our guide will tell you all you need to know about this attractive part of Portugal.

What makes this such an enticing place to visit?

One of the great things about the resort is that it’s quite unassuming place! When you visit there for the first time, you’ll soon notice how homely and welcoming the area is. There are a plethora of beachside cafes and restaurants there and the whole tone of the area is quite relaxed.

It’s because of those reasons that it’s an attractive option for families wishing to go on holiday in sunnier climes. What’s more, public transport and general accessibility are excellent, and, as such, you don’t even need to hire a car. Of course, if you did decide to get a rental car, you’ll have even more options for exploring the Algarve and at your own pace too.

Things to do in Praia Da Luz

If you’re planning a family holiday, the good news is that there is no shortage of things to do.

One of the main reasons families, couples and solo travellers alike choose this destination is the beautiful beaches. It has enticing rock pools, plus numerous water sports activities that are on offer for all the family. The main beach here is covered by the European blue flag ensuring clean sand and water, perfect if you enjoy swimming.

If you want to learn more about the history and culture of the area, there are many local points of interest to visit such as the Roman archaeological ruins containing a spa, swimming pool and various rooms. Also, a ten-minute drive to the historic city of Lagos will reward you with plenty of sightseeing options.

Do you enjoy hiking and exploring? If so, you should consider taking a trip up to the breath-taking cliffs of the Rocha Negra! They are massive black granite cliffs formed over 150 million years ago from volcanic lava and offer a commanding view of the area.

Where to eat in Praia Da Luz

When you fancy a bite to eat, it makes sense to dine somewhere that offers an array of dishes and is suitable for all the family.

What makes this Algarve destination an attractive holiday destination is the broad and varied range of restaurants and cafes on offer. While each establishment caters towards particular cuisines and delicacies, most restaurants offer freshly caught fresh - given the location of the resort.

Villa Accommodation Options

If this popular holiday resort appeals, there is no shortage of excellent self-catering villa accommodation to suit all requirements including properties for small and large groups, nearby to the beaches or town and so on. Please view below a small selection of villas that are available to book right now.

Casa Cristal

Large villa, sleeps up to 12 with some availability in the summer.

Vista Praia

Sleeps up to 8 people and located right on the beach.

Casa Rosa Almadena

3 bedroom villa in the countryside on the outskirts of Luz but excellent value for money and a great location for exploring.

A Final Word

Many who visit Praia Da Luz often return because of all the reasons given and it’s easy to see why as there is something for everyone.

25 Reasons why Portugal should be your holiday destination in 2017

25 Reasons why Portugal should be your holiday destination in 2017 There are many reasons to visit Portugal, too many to list in fact. Therefore, the list below represents what we consider to be Portugal’s highlights and explains in part why this country is increasingly popular with UK holidaymakers.

1) Portugal has great weather.

Lisbon is the sunniest capital city in Europe. Portugal in general is also one of the warmest countries in Europe. On the mainland the lowest air temperatures on average in the winter are around 17 degrees and in the summer average temperatures can reach 27.3 degrees.

2) Portugal is affordable.

Portugal is less expensive than many other countries in Europe which is good news for UK holidaymakers who have seen the Pound depreciate against the Euro by 20% since Brexit. It is also true that Portugal is consistently ranked as one of the cheapest places to eat and drink in Europe.

3) Portugal has great beaches.

The great weather, coastline and resorts make Portugal a great place for going to the beach. Marinha near Carvoeiro in the Algarve for example is regularly ranked as one of Europe’s finest beaches and is a big attraction. Surfers also flock to the beaches in Portugal because it is regarded as one of the top surfing destinations in Europe.

4) Attractive to Wildlife Lovers.

Whether it’s inland or marine based, Portugal’s wildlife is diverse with bird watching particularly popular in the Tagus International River Natural Park. If marine life interests you there is dolphin watching in Lagos or the Sado estuary, just south of Lisbon.

5) Portugal is safe.

Portugal is one of Europe’s safest countries which is helped by the fact it has largely escaped from international terrorism acts. While thieves and pickpockets can be a problem, violent crime is rare. Happily, there are tourist police stations in Lisbon and some of the other larger cities.

6) Tavira may be the prettiest town in the Algarve.

Much of Tavira’s charm comes from the fact that it has not yet been overwhelmed by tourists or developers. Tavira, which is 18 miles south of the Spanish border, is steeped in history. It boasts architecture from Phoenician times through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The Gilão River, which runs through the town, is crowded with fishing boats, and the town has a relaxed vibe.

7) Silves has some impressive architecture.

Back when the Algarve was an Arab territory, Silves was its capital. The Castelo de Silves is one of the best-preserved castles in the Algarve. Silves also has a cathedral that had been converted from a mosque.

8) Lagos has beaches and a history.

One of Lagos’ many claims to fame is that Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) used the town as a base from which he launched ships to explore Madeia, the Azores, and parts of Africa.

9) Luz is a village with a booming tourist industry.

Luz is a small village with a large beach that started off as fishing village. Some of the architecture dates back to the Middle Ages or earlier.

10) The Algarve is a golfer’s paradise.

The Algarve has almost 50 golf courses, some challenging and some designed for novices. Vilamoura is the home of the Portugal Masters golf tournament that takes place in the fall. Vale de Lobo and Quinta do Lago are also known for their golf courses.

11) Lisbon is the second-oldest capital city in Europe.

As such, it has a lot of fascinating architecture and history. Both the Lisbon Cathedral and Castle of São Jorge date back to the Middle Ages, but there are archaeological digs near them indicating that Phoenicians had settled in Lisbon back in 1200 BC!

12) It also has the longest bridge in Europe.

The Vasco da Gama Bridge, named after the explorer who discovered a sea route to India, is 7.6 miles long. It crosses the Tagus River, which is the Iberian Peninsula’s longest river.

13) Portugal has terrific food.

Since it’s a small country with a relatively large coastline, Portugal is a great place for seafood. Towns like Setúbal, Lagos, Faro, Tavira and Sagres are all known for their fresh fish. Portugal also produces excellent cheeses, sausages and other meats.

14) Portugal has great wine.

Portugal is home to the Douro Valley, the world’s oldest wine region. Of course, the famous fortified wine port comes from Portugal. Many kinds of native grapes are raised in vineyards in places like Arraiolos, Beja, and Estremoz.

15) Porches has the best pottery in the Algarve.

Local craftsmen have made it their mission to preserve traditional techniques of making pottery. Some of those techniques date back to the Middle Ages or earlier.

16) Porto has many attractions beyond wine and wine shops.

Recognised as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1996, attractions include the Livraria Lello Bookstore, which is believed to have been the inspiration for the Hogwarts Library. The São Bento railway station is famous for its azujelo or tile panels that depict Portuguese history. The Clérigos church tower was the tallest building in Portugal when it was competed in 1763.

17) Loule is a popular destination for day trips.

Loule used to be a Moorish city, and its architecture reflects that influence. The covered market, which was built in 2007, has design elements inspired by North African styles. The Loule Castle contains a municipal museum containing Roman and Bronze Age artefacts.

18) Alvor has one of the largest beaches in southern Portugal.

Alvor is a small town with a big beach and a relaxed vibe. It is popular with tourists who prefer to stay away from the rowdier towns.

19) Carvoeiro is one of the most family friendly resorts in Europe.

There are famous grottoes and caves in nearby Benagil and tourists can hire boats to visit them, a must do excursion!

20) Albufeira is the largest resort town in the Algarve.

It is consequently a popular party town with a very active night life, especially in the Areias de São João area. The older part of town is quieter and more relaxed, but still has plenty of shops. Albufeira also has a marina, so visitors may go on fishing trips, boat rides or diving explorations.

21) The Ria Formosa Natural Park is considered one of Portugal’s 7 Natural Wonders.

It is a coastal lagoon and is considered important bird habitat. Over 20,000 birds stay in the Park during the winter and thousands more stop there while migrating.

22) The Algarve has Zoomarine.

Zoomarine is a family theme park devoted to marine life and conservation. It boasts an aquarium, a 4D cinema, exhibition centers and a water park.

23) Portugal has lighthouses.

The Cabo de S. Vincente, located near Sagres, is one of the biggest lighthouses in Europe. The lighthouse of Santa Maria is located on the southernmost point of Portugal and was once considered ‘the end of the world’.

24) Pasteis de nata - the Portuguese Custard Tart

The origins of this famous pastry go back to Liberal Revolution of 1820 when local monks desperate to raise funds starting selling the Pasteis de nata at a nearby sugar refinery. Remarkably the original recipe lives on at the Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon.

25) The Ruins of Milreu are believed to be the remains of a Roman villa and bath.

Discovered in 1877, the ruins date back to the 1st century AD. They were found in the village Estói, just a few miles north of Faro.

There Are Some Amazing Villas to Choose From Available Right Now in the Algarve!

If you have been considering renting a private holiday villa, but you’re stuck for ideas, then relax, because we have some amazing properties in Algarve for you to check out! Self catering holiday accommodation does not come any better than these, be prepared to be blown away. It’s time to choose if you’re ready to create some magical memories to last a lifetime. Below are six of our truly most spectacular villas, the hardest part is going to be choosing which one. Enjoy!

Casa Kios – The Casa Kios has recently been completely renovated, its new owners extensively refurbishing the entire property. This beautiful villa is one of the most exquisite properties available to rent in the entire Quinta do Lago area!